Of GV Analogies, Media Attention and Missed Opportunity

( image credit : britannica)
A few memorable analogies were made during the summit and I just thought of one that I failed to present during the summit, so I will give it to you here.
David made the following parallel to explain his vision of GVO,[ I am paraphrasing because I cannot remember the exact words]:
“ When picture Global Voices, I think of Sami Ben Gharbia [ director of GV advocacy] as the man with the superman cape, who demands that the bouncers at the global party allow all party goers to attend without any discrimination whatsoever. “Why won’t you allow bloggers to express themselves and party?” he asks. So If Sami is the bouncer buster, I am the party obsessed guy who wants to invite as many people as possible to the party, especially those who have not attend any parties yet. No elitism allowed.”

Portnoy had a follow up to that analogy where he said:” well, I guess that makes me the wacko who wants to have 15 other parties at the same time. “ It was a pretty cool response to a brilliant analogy.
David illustrated what he meant with this video of the outreach project that is now translated in 17 languages.

I would like to follow-up on the analogy theme and what I wish I had said at the summit. My presentation was centered around the lack of coverage in national and international media with respect to the Cyclone Ivan disaster and why media attention and caring matters.
As Joi Ito put it, GVO is about "fixing what I call the "caring problem"" in the mainstream media. I tried to explain the best I could the concept of the “Ninja Gap” and why there are 10 times more articles about Japan than Nigeria in the Media. For a good explanation, read Ethan Zuckerman or David Weinberger ‘s write up on the subject.
A telling map, constructed by L’observsatoire des medias, shows that the world according to the medias is a very distorted place.

I used these findings to explain why cyclone Ivan was only a blip on the media map when Kosovo declared independence on the day Ivan made landfall.
The tireless effort of Malagasy bloggers allowed for awareness to not vanish into the night but it was definitely a struggle.
Why does that matter you ask ?
Here comes my analogy and you have to forgive me because it’s a biologist analogy. This is what I do after all let’s call it “the old guy media” analogy:
If you think of the world as an old person, you can picture him/her as this body with lots of aches and pain signals coming from everywhere. He is trying to process all the information and react appropriately. However, he/she is, like everyone, mostly aware of what is closer to his senses, his eyes, his nose etc. (in this analogy, those regions would be the western world). For you to worry about your toes or calves, they need to be in some serious distress (war, famine etc. ). It’s human nature, unless you just bought some fancy new shoes ( Manolo Blahniks maybe ? ) and the perception is that the shoes look good therefore the toes are ok ( Disney movie of some kind, urgh).
Now let’ say you fall one day and cut your big toe (cyclone Ivan) but at the same time, you sprain your wrist (Kosovo), you take care of the wrist but the toe does not heal properly because the cut is deep. Ideally, the toe is strong and recovers without assistance. Unfortunately, it’s not so it starts sending signal to the body that hey, it could use a band aid and some Benadryl.
This is when it is crucial that the signal sent is of good quality: the body has to be aware of the damage, why and where he should apply antiseptic cream. If the signal is just an itch, the body will ignore it and worry about the pimple on its nose (Paris Hilton) or more reasonably, the lingering exhausting back pain (food crisis).

To me, GVO is one of those cool CAT SCAN machines that allow you to have a deep assessment of every parts of your body without intermediate interpretations. What you see is what you get. You scan the mid-section if you want to or your Achilles’ heels. Rising Voices is the yoga technique that helps you sense all the part of your bodies that you were not even aware of before, GV Advocacy is the fancy endoscope that let you see through all the inert mass that is sometimes in the way and GV-lingua are all the textbooks that help you form an opinion on your health status once you are done gathering all the data.

I just wished I could have told the audience at the summit to be aware of all the signals that the body sends. Media attention is not just about vain narcissism, it’s just not that easy to walk with a painful toe.


  1. LOVA!

    You. are. amazing. I love the analogy, I love what you're saying, and I love that we're making it happen. Let me know if there's anything I can ever do for your part of the world!


  2. I think it is an extremely apt analogy. I believe that GV should strengthen the "CAT scan" qualities and also get into the radar when the world gets a new pedicure (cultural events in other places) or when a new hairstyle comes into being (scientific discoveries in a set region).

  3. @Taamarbuuta,
    like you said, all of us are making it happen. If you could just help me clarify that I did not mean that some regions are the small toe of the world in terms of relevance ( it was more of geographic metaphor :) )

    100% agree that an emphasis on all things not-politics-nor-crises (aches of the world) but achievement or celebrations (new hairstyle or healthier abs) is greatly needed. The rest of the world's positive contribution is arguably the least covered topic in MSM.